Thursdays Hot Coals - The Deju Vu Flames

Remember last season's slow start? Remember how from Oct to Dec the Flames went off a cliff only to recover and post one of the best NHL records from Jan 2011 to season end? Remember how it wasn't enough because of all those early losses.

Remember how in that sea of losses in Oct-Dec the painful fact settled in after the season ended that if the Flames had posted just 3 wins out of a lot of very winnable games they could have actually finished 4th overall in the West with 100 points. A staggering point total that really illustrated just how strong their play had been for the 2011 part of the 2010-11 season. 

Is the reality that here we are, a mere 14 games in and 6-7-1 worrisome? Last season 14 games in the Flames record was 7-7-0. It is all too familiar. Although we do have a new motto for this year "Every game matters." It should have been "Every shift matters"

A little bit of a rant after the jump and your daily links eventually come up at the bottom. 

As far as being a fan goes I think I am one of the smiley ones. I love my team and by and large I take it pretty easy on them. Earlier in the season in what became a Flames Fan townhall that Edmonton Oiler fans will never forget, Jay Feaster said he felt that there were three types of Flames fans. 

"We know that you reside in one of three groups - you love everything that we do no matter what happens; you are loyal but frustrated; or you think that we're total idiots that have never known what we're doing and never will know what we're doing.

"We hope that the last group is the smallest. If you're in that group, I'll meet you in the back alley in a couple of minutes." Jay Feaster - September 2 - 2011

I don't quite like the pigeon hole myself. I consider myself somewhere between the first two.

My instinct is to defend what occurs but in the back of my mind I sometimes have doubts. I give the team the benefit of the doubt and do not consider myself blindly loyal. I defended Darryl Sutter's trade of Dion Phaneuf at the time but in the back of my mind I was very concerned. The Rangers trade was too much, I could not defend it, even as much as I wanted to and the Staios Oiler trade was flat out drunk dialing - I had to speak out against that one. No matter how much of a nice guy Steve Staios may be. A line was crossed trading with the Oilers in a trade that was not even remotely balanced. NHL 12 probably would have blocked it. 

At the end of it all though I am a loyal fan. I have been through much worse. The Flames still have several good pieces, even if you don't consider Iggy. I have more reason to be optimistic today than I did in the 7 year dark age and I am glad about that. 

But two seasons back to back with the same pattern is not acceptable.

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The day I look forward to the most before the season actually starts is the day the NHL schedule is released. I get impatient for hockey to start and I don't follow prospects anymore, so I look forward to this schedule. I print it out and then beer in hand, well actually usually coffee, I go through it putting in W's and L's for the whole season. 

No fancy stats here. Just old hockey fan, coffee in hand, reflexively calling games based on whether teams got stronger or weaker in their off-season moves relative to the Flames. The Flames got slightly weaker this year, I don't think many dispute this but so did other teams in the West. I look at back to back games, I consider road trips, all in all I just let the neurons naturally fire away in that holistic way and come to a instant conclusion in a half second or so on each game. Kind of the same way I pick my fantasy teams. 

At the bottom I add it all up and see if the Flames have the Wins. I don't predict OT points, that comes out in the wash. I sit down to watch the season and as each month goes by I compare my results and to see if the Flames are ahead or behind in the playoff race. This season I don't expect the Flames to beat the Penguins, Capitals, Blackhawks, Canucks and so on and if they do, bonus.

My expectation at this point was 8-6. Last year the Flames had a tougher 14 games to start the season. The concern is that this is a repeat of last year and it is flat-out unacceptable.

Now the Flames are staring right into the Indian Head in Chicago to get on track. Just to get back into it they are going to have to beat an elite team at least twice by my oracle method along with consistently taking out the usual lower ranked teams and getting the best of the other bubble teams at least 50% of the time.

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There have been some terrible games and that is fine, it happens, look at elite teams like the Canucks and Capitals, happens to them too. 

Really what is concerning me is that there has not really been a game that I consider really good even in the Flames 6 wins. That is my concern at this point. There has been great individual performances by players. Henrik Karlsson in Buffalo. Jay Bouwmeester against the Wild the other night. Kipper has had several strong games but I don't see a strong holistic team out there, even the Detriot win to me looked more like the Red Wings in disarray not the Flames running them over. The Flames are not the only team to spank the Wings this season after all. 

Enough of a rant. The Flames have got to get winning and they have got to prove they are NOT on track for a November like last year. Friggin shave the mustaches if need be, get in the game, learn the lesson from last year.

Making or missing the playoffs rests in the month of November just as much as any other month in the year. The Flames have already used their Mulligan in the month of October.

"Every shift matters" 

/end rant

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  • Little Flames reflection by the (Hockey Writers)
  • In the category of no kidding Sherlock - the Flames horrific Power Play is discussed in the (Montreal Gazette)
  • More of the Flames woes on the goal scoring front from (The Toronto Sun)
  • When things are bad it is time to do what Oiler fans have done for many years, turn your eyes away. Gaze with optimism, joy and infinite hope on the little Sparks from the draft. The dream of one of these little sparks catching on and turning into a great Flame is as comforting as sitting in front of a fireplace on a cold winter day. Kent Wilson of Flames Nation to the rescue for your early season Flames depression.
  • Ever wonder what people were talking about last year when TB went to the Conference Finals and you heard all this talk of a 1-3-1 trap system? Doesn't get more obvious than it is here. HIlarious how the Flyers freeze to really reveal the lack of forecheck.  (Puck Daddy) 
  • There is a worse power-play in the NHL? Good thing we face-off against these guys tomorrow / sarcasm. (Puck Daddy)
  • Former Flame Theoren Fleury wades into that ugly Penn State mess (TSN) via Twitter which is provoking property damage now on the streets (ESPN) No arrests occurred.
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